THIS WEEK @ JK's TheatreScene

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Well, my "little vacation" ended up lasting two and a half years... funny how life steers your life in directions you weren't planning on. I'll start off with occasional posts, but I fully plan to resume this blog to full speed by the new year.

I hope you'll come back for frequent visits, to see new reviews, to share opinions, to take a survey (or two), and to celebrate the shows and show people that have made the TheatreScene!

Jeff

Sunday, November 15, 2009

On the Radar: Wonderland

The other day, I blogged about Frank Wildhorn's new musical, Bonnie and Clyde, which began its first public viewing this past week. A second Wildhorn show, Wonderland: Alice's New Musical Adventure begins previews early next month in Tampa, with another engagement in Houston after the first of the year. While I am not looking forward to this one as much as B & C, there are many reasons to keep this one "on the radar."
Alice in Wonderland, which seems to pop up regularly as a property "newly musicalized," is, at least here, taking the familiar and bringing it up to date, with an adult Alice returning to Wonderland to save her daughter from the evil Queen of Hearts. One thing that makes this an interesting choice for Mr. Wildhorn is that it doesn't seem ripe for the power ballads he so enjoys - maybe one or two; Alice worried, Alice having and epiphany, Alice and daughter reunited. On the other hand, it does seem like a vehicle for his more catchy side, so maybe there will be a cool "Facade"-like number or two.

This production also reunites him with much of his Civil War crew, namely Jack Murphy (lyrics) and Gregory Boyd (book and direction). I loved The Civil War, despite its brief stay on Broadway. Wonderland also features the choreography of Marguerite Derricks (Hot Feet). And a cast full of Broadway veterans and Broadway newcomers has also been assembled, which definitely speaks to both the potential quality of this try-out and to the seriousness with which we should take it. Cast members include: Janet Dacal (In the Heights), Karen Mason (Mamma Mia!, Sunset Boulevard), Nikki Snelson (Legally Blonde, A Chorus Line - tour) and Jose Llana (Spelling Bee, The King and I)


Finally, this property seems to be close to how the authors envision it, as a "concept" recording has already been made and will be for sale shortly. Many of Wildhorn's works have received such treatment, including Jekyll and Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Civil War. All had their definite pluses, but only The Civil War came close to what eventually made it to the stage, and The Scarlet Pimpernel to some extent. Jekyll and Hyde, the concept recording, in my opinion far exceeds what eventually came to pass, both in quality, interest, and orchestration.

The reason I'm not as excited about this project is likely more to do with personal taste than anything. Alice in Wonderland never appealed to me as a book, an animated film, a mini series or even as a theme for Broadway Bares. And yet, I've tried them all, searching for what makes it so appealing to everyone else. And should it come anywhere near home or New York, I'm sure I'll try it again.



Thoughts? Let me know by leaving a comment!
Jeff

2 comments:

  1. I was lucky enough to see Janet Dacal twice in In the Heights (my new favorite thing) before she left the show to start working on Wonderland. She was absolutely perfect in the role of Carla, and she and Andrea Burns were hysterical together. Though I miss seeing her in ITH now, I'm really glad that Ms. Dacal is getting this chance to shine. I hope the show will make it's way to NY or somewhere else I can get to, but in the meanwhile, I'll look forward to the concept CD.
    I do like the Alice in Wonderland story, and it's the source of one of my favorite quotes, which I have framed at home (it's about believing impossible things).

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  2. I, too, have much love for In the Heights. And I agree, she and Ms. Burns were electric together! Thanks, as always, for writing in. I hope you have told your friends about the site!
    Jeff

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